In partnership with TEG Dainty
Nick Mason’s Saucerful of Secrets are on a mission: to show the world that Pink Floyd did not begin with ‘Dark Side Of The Moon’. With drummer Mason in charge, the five-piece Saucerful bring to life the sounds of Pink Floyd from 1967-1972, an era barely acknowledged in concert either by the band or solo in a live setting from 1973 until the Saucerful of Secrets formed in 2018.
Mason is the only Pink Floyd member to have played every one of their gigs, from their earliest performances at the London Polytechnic, where they were studying, through to their very unlikely reunion for a tense, four-song set at Live 8 in 2005. From the consequences of initial frontman Syd Barrett’s drug-induced psychosis, through to bitter infighting between Roger Waters and Dave Gilmour, for much of their existence Floyd journeyed forward amid near-constant conflict.
In Saucerful of Secrets, which includes Gary Kemp (Spandau Ballet), Guy Pratt (Pink Floyd’s bass player post-Roger Waters departure), Lee Harris (The Blockheads) and Dom Beken (The Orb), Mason has, in his own words, a crew of “great musicians and great company on the road. Sometimes that matters more than whether they can play or not.”
This band can, indeed, play. Their two-hour set is a salute to the writing of all four of Mason’s former bandmates (Barrett, Waters, Gilmour and Rick Wright). They offer both sides of their very first single ‘Arnold Layne’ and move through to selections from ‘Meddle’ (1971) and ‘Obscured By Clouds’ (1972), which sound very connected to the Pink Floyd sound the world would soon embrace.
The band is not trapped into slavishly recreating those recordings. Each performance is familiar enough to the released versions to please the pedants, while there is a joyful energy that underpins everything and makes material that’s 50 years old and counting sound contemporary. This is a chance to hear Pink Floyd as a fun night out.
‘Arnold Layne’ exhibits a barely reined-in chaos that makes it sound more ’77 than ’67. The other hit from that year, ‘See Emily Play’, echoes Bowie’s cover as it injects a little glam into Barrett’s heady pop genius. As well as the familiar, the Saucerful’s set also includes rarities like ‘Bike’ and ‘Vegetable Man’. The first is a very British curio while the latter was recorded in 1967 and, though heavily bootlegged, would remain unreleased until 2016.
‘Remember A Day’ was only played once in the life of Pink Floyd as a live band, while ‘The Nile Song’ never made it to the stage. Neither did ‘Fearless’ from 1971’s ‘Meddle’, despite its obvious crowd-pleasing coda, a couple of verses of ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’. People going to see Saucerful on their upcoming Australian tour can expect an opportunity to sing along to the Rodgers and Hammerstein classic.
Epics like ‘Echoes’, ‘Saucerful of Secrets’ and ‘Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun’ are each given room to expand without any fear they will descend into a loose jam.
“Saucerful is not trying to be a perfect version of the real thing,” Mason told a US newspaper late last year. “We can not only play some of Pink Floyd’s music properly, but we can also play with the same sort of attitude that was around at the time these pieces were new.”
Far from a nostalgia band, Nick Mason’s Saucerful of Secrets show that this music has a relevance in the 21st century. Set the controls for the heart of Pink Floyd.
Nick Mason’s Saucerful of Secrets bring their Echoes tour to Australia in September. Newest dates added due to demand are Sunday September 17 at the Forum, Melbourne and Friday September 22 at the Enmore Theatre, Sydney. Tickets for these new shows go on sale tomorrow (May 31). Tickets to all other shows in Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth are available now